Defacing the good book.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

How much of a half-wit do you have to be to think it’s okay to deface library books like this? And this is aboslutely nothing - I’ve checked out some books that were so full of highlighting, underlining, circles, arrows, and marginal comments that they were almost completely illegible.

The type of moronic mentality behind library book defacement is the same type of mentality behind littering. It’s a mentality which causes you to view other people - the people who have to share public spaces and public property with you, not to mention the people who have to clean up after you - as inconsequential. It’s a mentality which says, "The world I live in and everything that passes through my hands is completely worthless, so I can do what I like to them." It’s a mentality which encourages behavior that broadcasts the fact that you are a complete imbecile.

I think that if you ever, ever pick up a pen and write in a library book, you should automatically lose library privileges worldwide for the rest of your life. That would be a milder alternative to my dream punishment for this crime, which involves hunting down the perpetrators and scribbling them to death with their highlighters.

I think I’m going to start a collection of photos of defaced library books; between the term paper and the dissertation I’ll have to write in the coming months, I should have plenty of library book material for an extensive gallery. Maybe I can launch a campaign together with Xerox called "MAKE A DAMN PHOTOCOPY". This might encourage people to use those wacky, newfangled machines in the library to make their own personal copies of things, which they can then scribble on and drool all over to their heart’s content, thus saving me from having to wade through their pointless highlighting and inane commentary every time I open up the pages of another poor library book.

Really, what is the world coming to…



What, indeed…

No respect for books anymore.


Oops. The previous comment was supposed to include a link, but I guess the "a" tag is not allowed here. Well, this is it:


Excellent, someone who can sympathize with my plight!

To be honest, some of the comments I’ve read in the margins of books have been quite funny. "If you underline everything, you underline nothing", for example, was written in the margin of one of those pages I photographed. But while this was an appropriate and amusing comment, whoever actually wrote it in the library book (albeit in pencil) just compounded the problem of there being so much darn scribbling all over the page that I couldn’t even read what was originally printed there.

I was sorely, sorely tempted to write my own comment in the defaced pages - something along the lines of "You are all going to Hell" or "I am going to hunt you down and scribble you to death, you mad scribbling scribblers" - but I soon realized that that, too, would only compound the problem, and kind of make me look like a madwoman as well.

So I blogged about it instead. :-)

Posted by Jessica


Thou art not alone in thy plight…

"…hunt you down and scribble you to death, you mad scribbling scribblers" — I almost wish I actually needed to use that sentence for something; I doubt it. Someone in New Zealand might, though. :-)


Feel free to distribute and use that sentence at will! :-)

Posted by Jessica


They are all ignoramuses. As the Germans say: "Nach mir die Sintflut." Like those people driving their cars and focus on everything different than driving. They don’t notice you, they don’t ever turn on the indicators or the lights when it’s dusk or dawn etc. The world is full of them. They just don’t care - and it makes me furious. I can’t help it.

Posted by Christian


A friend of mine once got a copy of The Selfish Gene out of the library and some Christian had annotated the text with comments like "Rubbish! Man is ABOVE the animals!"


For the record: It wasn’t me ;-)

Posted by Christian



Posted by Jessica



I can’t even stand it when people deface their own books, let alone a shared, public resource. Quite often you will find that the underlined sections are completely irrelevant anyway - makes you wonder how some people actually study when the focus on the wrong things.

Posted by arb


I agree with you on both counts, arb! If I make a mark in one of my own books, I make it very lightly, in *pencil*, so I have the option of erasing it completely at some point in the future. And I also find myself wondering why people have highlighted and underlined the things they have - sometimes it seems like they’ve completely missed the point of what they’re reading. But then, if you’re the type of person who writes in library books like that, I figure you’re not too bright to begin with…

Posted by Jessica

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